1/ 'After a mucky trail run (I was part of relay team in a triathlon), I decided to shower in the leisure centre that doubled as race HQ. The open row of showers struck me as odd, but rather than be thought a prude I stripped down and lathered up. As I scrubbed dirt from my legs I thought I heard a voice from the doorway: “Sir?” I listened for a second and, hearing nothing, began to shampoo my hair.
“Sir,” came the voice, and this time it meant business. I froze.
“Yes!” I called as cheerfully as I could and leaned slightly in the direction of the voice, as if in an ad.
“Sir, this is the family changing area. There are shower cubicles behind you.”
“Oh God! I had no idea,” I bellowed through shampoo bubbles, groping for my towel. I found a shower cubicle by running into the door, and stayed there for a long time.'
2/ 'When I first suffered bleeding nipples during marathon training, I didn’t notice at all. I always like a good walk at the end of long run and wondered why people were staring at me, looking slightly concerned.'
3/ 'One time a guy hopped on the treadmill next to me in an all-but-empty gym. As I've been conditioned to ignore people who invade my personal space in public, I proceeded to ignore him for the next 20 minutes – even as he started singing. Loudly. It was only when he splashed Lucozade in my face and I turned around to scream at him that I realised the ‘creepy guy’ was actually just my brother, messing with me. That’s how committed my efforts to avoid eye contact had been.'
4/ 'My most embarrassing running moments – and unfortunately there have been a few – generally revolve around the struggles of my delicate digestive system and getting caught short when on a run. And when I say caught short I mean number twos. There have been too many tense moments as I run through London's Royal Parks, panicking about the building pressure in my bowels, desperately scanning the horizon for the nearest public convenience. The happiness and relief of finding one and attending to business is possibly only matched by the horror of finding the nearest loo out of order. Or perhaps even more frustrating, finding one operational but charging 30p (which I'd have gladly paid in my moment of need, but didn't have on me). On those occasions a shadowy (and hopefully unseen) nook in a nearby hedgerow had to suffice for a call of nature in its truest sense – a deeply humbling and yet in some ways strangely liberating experience.'
5/ 'Once, the local drunk decided to join me (complete with beer in hand) when I ran past him in town. I couldn't shake him off for ages - he was fitter than I gave him credit for!'
6/ 'After a stint off with injury, I fully embraced the rush of pounding the pavements again. With the wind in my hair and a surge of endorphins pulsing through me, I got totally into the zone as I headed down London's Embankment. So far into the zone, in fact, that I didn't spot an impending tree until I slammed headfirst into it, to the amusement of many a passing tourist.'
7/ 'It was the first time I’d ever been to this boutique gym. The instructors and clientele looked like extras from a Brandy Melville shoot and I felt like Uncle Fester’s younger, slightly-overweight sister as I slunk towards my treadmill in the near darkness.
The workout was tough, tougher than I’d imagined after a few weeks off the gym and a couple of glasses of Pinot the night before. My top kept riding up to bra level with every digit the incline and speed climbed and I felt generally uncomfortable in my own un-toned skin.
It was just as I neared exhaustion level, mounting the treadmill for the third time that I noticed the thing I should have noticed before: a white label flapping in thee faux air-con breeze with every stride. I had my leggings on inside out. It was the last straw for my already-battered self-confidence and my soul, and legs gave up the ghost. The result? Falling headfirst into the treadmill console and sporting an impressively large welt on my forehead for the rest of the week.'